A guide from Wilson Nesbitt Solicitors on estate planning. See wilson-nesbitt.com.
An estate plan is generally a series of documents that protect all of your assets and properties (estate) enclosed with specific instructions and details on:
- how you want to pass each of your estates to your chosen beneficiaries;
- those who will guard your wishes; and
- those who will act on them on your behalf upon death.
Estate planning is the general process of arranging the distribution of assets in a way that is fully beneficial to your beneficiaries. It generally ensures that your loved ones are left with the maximum possible proceeds from your estates upon death—and it isn’t just for the rich. Consider the following reasons why you should have one, estate planning:
- allows you to choose who gets what;
- gives you the chance to name your children’s guardian;
- reduces taxes on what you leave behind; and
- minimizes the chances of strife and inconvenient legal proceedings within your family.
Estate planning protects beneficiaries
In the early times, estate planning was only for high net worth individuals. Even middle-class families now are planning ahead for life uncertainties such as a breadwinner’s death. Just as long as there are assets involved, estate planning is beneficial to pass on these estates to your heirs.
Probate is a process of:
- validating a person’s will upon death;
- placing value on their estates;
- paying their final bills and taxes; and
- distributing the rest to their beneficiaries.
Estate planning eliminates feuds within families
Having an estate plan in place will likely eliminate future family feuds—especially when there’s a lot of assets and properties involved.
Estate planning reduces estate taxes
The impact inheritance tax may have on their relatives is a very real and growing concern especially for people who are approaching their later life. An estate plan will be able to help avoid or reduce the amount of inheritance tax to be paid.
Estate planning protects assets
Asset and property protection planning is a very significant reason as to why people are discussing matters with their estate planning solicitor (including those who already have an estate plan in place).
Overriding your pre-written will
Your state already has a will written for you by default—the intestacy statute. Since this is a default will, it will not distribute your assets and your properties the way you would want to. With an estate plan in place, you can override this law by doing either of these things:
- execute a valid will;
- create a revocable trust that you will transfer your assets into while you’re alive;
- jointly-own your assets; or
- provide for the disposition of your assets in pursuant to a TOD (transfer of death) or beneficiary designation.
Create the best estate plan suitable for you and for your needs by having an experienced estate planning solicitor. Your solicitor should be able to review your estates and your documents and inform you of each option’s advantages and disadvantages.